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Lower-wage workers and work-family social support: a qualitative study




Stevens, Shalyn C., author
Fisher, Gwenith G., advisor
Chen, Adela J., committee member
Crain, Tori L., committee member
Harman, Jennifer J., committee member

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Compared to research on professional-level workers (e.g., those colloquially referred to as having "white collar" jobs), limited studies on lower-wage workers exist, with even fewer focusing specifically on fast-food workers. However, fast-food workers represent a large portion of lower-wage workers in the United States and often experience a range of stressors including nontraditional work hours and financial instability, coupled with significant family demands. The current study answers calls from the work-family literature within industrial-organizational psychology to better understand the unique needs and experiences of this working population. Specifically, this study uses a qualitative, exploratory approach to better understand specific work-family stressors, as well as supervisor and coworker behaviors that are interpreted as most supportive of work and family, particularly as the workforce faces new and unprecedented challenges associated with COVID-19. Individual interviews were conducted with a sample of fast-food employees who provide at least five hours of dependent care per week. Results indicate a need to re-conceptualize certain notions of supervisor and coworker support to be specific and appropriate for the fast-food industry. Theoretical and practical implications for employees, supervisors, organizations, and future intervention work are discussed.


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supervisor support
coworker support


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